Lawlessness, rampant sexual promiscuity, theft, gambling, drugs and being a general menace to society are the stripes motorcycle riders wear… 40 years ago! No doubt the image of motorcycling in the U.S. hit a low spot starting in 1947 with the infamous, and allegedly staged, photo of a Boozefighter motorcycle club member surrounded by empty beer bottles in the gutter, lying next to his bike. There’s more detail to that story, but this incident eventually became the premise for the Marlon Brando classic, “The Wild Ones.”
A couple decades later, during the ‘60s and ‘70s, the Hell’s Angels became the face of all that was wrong with motorcycling in the public’s mind. Since then it’s only been in the past 15 or 20 years that motorcycling seems to have largely made a full public image recovery. Though there’s still a faction or two that seem to keep biking with one foot in the grave. Regardless, in the U.S. the image of motorcycles and riding them has come light years from where it once was for a very long time.
However, it seems that sweeping generalizations about two wheels aren’t limited to grannies in Idaho, or stockbrokers on Wall Street. An article coming out of Thailand reports on a very nervous and fearful woman who seems determined that Thai youth are inescapably bound for a life of ill-repute. And she boldly and matter-of-factly proclaims motorcycles to be the lead contributor of such a wretched life.
Though she, or at least as reported in the article, doesn’t cite hard data from lengthy research, Ms. Panadda Chamnansuk, a lecturer from Kasetsart University, is quite convinced that certain kids, specifically boys “marginalized” in Thai society might become “involved in road accidents, crime, and create weak-structured families based on casual sex, which also posed a risk of HIV infection.” Sheesh! Just because they wanna ride?
Chamnansuk alleges that “these ‘marginalized’ boys use motorcycles as an identity-creating tool.” Furthermore, she blames bike manufactures for pandering to the disjointed mores of these kids.
Frankly, I find the whole thing funny. There may be some basis to what I imagine is probably a rather mild social dysfunction, but other than relying on “interviews” with a vaguely defined group, this researcher, at least as reported on in the article, has little credibility to make such damning stereotypes.
I wonder if Ms. Chamnansuk watched “Easy Rider” before she became so ascared?